A Mean-spirited Letter on Parental Choice
A letter to the editor in today’s Post shows the ugly, mean-spirited attitude of some opponents of parental choice:
Regarding “School tax credits die in state House” (March 8): Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, never ceases to amaze me. His support of a Missouri House bill to give tax credits to send urban kids to private schools is a slap in the face to the rural school districts he is supposed to represent. The article said that this bill could cost the state up to $40 million in tax credits.
As House speaker, it is a testament to his poor leadership that 35 Republican representatives voted against the bill. Thank goodness the bill was defeated. I live in Mr. Jetton’s district. The only good thing about that is that he is term-limited and cannot serve another term as a state representative. Maybe next time around we can get a representative who cares more about the needs of rural schools than making a career in politics.
There are several problems with this argument. First, the state of Missouri spends about $5 billion per year on K-12 education each year, so the $40 million price tag amounts to less than one percent of the state budget. I wonder if Mr. Page writes letters to the editor every time the legislature spends $40 million in an effort to help inner-city kids.
Second, if the author’s point is that rural taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the education of inner-city kids, he’s long since lost that battle. The state already pays significantly more per-pupil to the Saint Louis and Kansas City school districts than they do elsewhere in the state. Saint Louis receives $5500 per pupil from the state, compared with only $4200 per pupil for the author’s hometown of Fredericktown.
Most importantly, the author fails to consider the fact that the cost to the state of his program would be far less than $40 million. It’s true that the HB808 would issue up to $40 million in tax credits. However, many of the scholarships distributed as part of the tax credit program would go to kids who otherwise would have gone to public schools. Some (or depending on the details, potentially all) of the costs of the tax credit program would be offset by savings due to the fact that the state had to educate fewer kids through the public schools. So the true cost of the tax credit program would be substantially less than $40 million.
If the author is truly worried about threats to his pocketbook, he should be writing letters to the editor about the so-called adequacy lawsuit now wending its way through the court system. That could mandate billions of dollars in additional spending. And worst of all, it would require that all of the money be given to the same public schools that have squandered so many millions already. If there’s one thing that’s worse than being forced to pay for the education of other peoples’ kids, it’s being forced to pay for an ineffective effort to educate other peoples’ kids.